7 secrets to raising awesome, functional teenagers

Upworthy

One mom gets real about parenting teens.
By Christie Halverson, FEBRUARY 24, 2016

I occasionally get asked by mothers of young children what the secret is to raising great teenagers.

My initial response is that I have absolutely no clue. My kids are who they are IN SPITE of having me as a mother. (The young moms don’t find that answer too helpful.)

Really, the first thing that I will tell you is to disbelieve the myth that teenagers are sullen, angry creatures who slam doors and hate their parents. Some do that, but the overwhelming majority do not. Every one of my kids’ friends are just as happy and fun as my kids are, so I know it’s not just us.

Teenagers are incredible. They are funny, smart, eager to please, and up for just about anything as long as food is involved. They have the most generous hearts and want desperately to be loved and validated. They are quirky and messy and have the best sense of humor.
Teens

My beautiful teens. All photos used here are mine, used with permission.

So, here is my list of “rules” for raising teens. These are the secrets we have found to be successful.

1. Love them fiercely.
Love everything about them, even the annoying stuff. Love them for their actions AND their intentions. Let them know in word and deed how much you adore them. Daily. Love their wrinkled shirts and Axe-body-spray-covered selves. Love their bad handwriting and pimpled cheeks. Love their scattered brains and long limbs. All these seemingly insignificant details are an amazing, magical process at work. It’s like being witness to the miracle of a diamond mid-formation. All this imperfection is going to one day yield a responsible, serious adult. A loving husband and father. Or a wonderful wife and mother. It’s a privilege to be witness to such glorious growth.

See your teenagers as a privilege, don’t see them as a burden. They’re more perceptive than you can imagine. How you feel about them will be no secret. So just love ’em.

2. Listen and pay attention.

When they walk in the door after school, you have a precious few minutes when they will divulge the secrets of their day with you. Be excited to see them. Put down the cell phone. Don’t waste this time making dinner or taking a phone call. Look them in the eye and hear what they are saying. Make their victories your victories. Be empathetic. It is really hard to navigate high school and middle school. Don’t offer advice at this time unless they ask for it. Don’t lecture. Just listen. It makes them feel important and valued. We all need to feel that way.

3. Say yes more than you say no.

The world is forever going to tell them no. For the rest of their lives, they will be swimming in a stormy sea with wave after wave of “you’re not good enough” and “you can’t do this” crashing down on their heads. If nothing else, I want to be the opposite voice in their lives for as long as I can. I want to instill in them the belief that they are not limited and they can do anything if they’re willing to work hard enough for it. I want to be the YES, YOU CAN in their lives. I want them to leave my house every day feeling invincible.

4. Say no often.

You need to say no to experiences and situations that will set your child up for harm or unhappiness. Don’t let them go to the parties where they will be forced to make a choice about alcohol at age 16 in front of their peers . Don’t let them stay out until three in the morning with a member of the opposite sex. Be the parent. Set up rules for their safety, both physical and moral. You would think this rule goes without saying, but we have known a shockingly large number of parents who don’t.

5. Feed them. A lot.

And not only them, but their friends too. These bodies are growing and developing at an astonishing rate and need fuel to do so — most of which they prefer to be loaded with processed sugar and hydrogenated-something-or-others. When their friends know your pantry is stocked to the gills with treats, they will beg your kid to hang out at your place. This allows you to not only meet and know their friends, but to keep an eye on your teen as well.

6. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

When living with teenagers, it can be so easy to see the backpack dropped in the middle of the living room as laziness. Or the bedroom scattered with dirty clothes as irresponsible. Instead, and before you open your mouth to yell at them, put yourself in their shoes. Find out about their day first. Maybe they are feeling beaten down, and they just need to unwind for a minute and tell you about it. Ignore the mess for a bit and put your arms around that big, sweaty kid and give him a hug. Talk to him about his world. Find out what he did, wants to do, and dreams of doing. THEN, and only then, ask him to pick it up and put it away.

That being said, do I completely ignore the state of my boys’ bedrooms all the time? No, I do not. But I pick my battles, and I pick the appropriate time to fight them. Once every seven to 10 days or so, I tell them their bedrooms need to be picked up. Which they do happily because it’s not the running loop of a nagging mom. They know when I ask, it needs to be done.

7. Stand back and watch the magic happen.

If you let them, these glorious creatures will open their hearts and love you more fiercely than you could possibly imagine. They are brilliant, capable, strong spirits who bring with them a flurry of happiness. They are hilarious and clever. They are thoughtful and sensitive. They want us to adore them. They need us to adore them. They love deeply and are keenly in touch with the feelings of others.
Teens 2

They are just about the greatest gift God gave to parents.

Why Do We Teach Girls That It’s Cute to Be Scared?

The New York Times

By CAROLINE PAUL FEB. 20, 2016

21paul-master675

Credit Lauren Tamaki

I WAS one of the first women in the San Francisco Fire Department. For more than a dozen years, I worked on a busy rig in a tough neighborhood where rundown houses caught fire easily and gangs fought with machetes and .22s. I’ve pulled a bloated body from the bay, performed CPR on a baby and crawled down countless smoky hallways.

I expected people to question whether I had the physical ability to do the job (even though I was a 5-foot-10, 150-pound ex-college athlete). What I didn’t expect was the question I heard more than any other: “Aren’t you scared?”

It was strange — and insulting — to have my courage doubted. I never heard my male colleagues asked this. Apparently, fear is expected of women.

This fear conditioning begins early. Many studies have shown that physical activity — sports, hiking, playing outdoors — is tied to girls’ self-esteem. And yet girls are often warned away from doing anything that involves a hint of risk.

One study focused on, coincidentally, a playground fire pole, is particularly revealing. It was published in The Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology and showed that parents cautioned their daughters about the dangers of the fire pole significantly more than they did their sons and were much more likely to assist them. But both moms and dads directed their sons to face their fears, with instruction on how to complete the task on their own.

I spoke recently to a friend who admitted that she cautioned her daughter much more than her son. “But she’s very klutzy,” the mom explained. I wondered, wasn’t there a way even a klutzy child could take risks? My friend agreed there might be, but only halfheartedly, and I could see on her face that maternal instinct was sparring with feminism, and feminism was losing.

I had been a klutzy child, too. I was also shy, and scared of many things: big kids, whatever might be under my bed at night, school. But I pored over National Geographic and “Harriet the Spy.” I knew all about Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table, who wandered the countryside swearing oaths of bravery and honor. None of these characters talked about fear. They talked about courage, exploration and exciting deeds.

So I biked down a steep country road (and hit a car). I sledded down an icy hill (and hit a tree). I don’t remember my parents freaking out; they seemed to understand that mishaps were part of childhood. I got a few stitches, and kept biking and sledding. Misadventures meant that I should try again. With each triumph over fear and physical adversity, I gained confidence.

I recently asked my mother why she never tried to stop me. She said that her own mother had been very fearful, gasping at anything remotely rough-and-tumble. “I had been so discouraged from having adventures, and I wanted you to have a more exciting childhood,” she told me.

My mom is an outlier. According to a study in The Journal of Pediatric Psychology last year, parents are “four times more likely to tell girls than boys to be more careful” after mishaps that are not life-threatening but do entail a trip to the emergency room. It seems like a reasonable warning. But there is a drawback, and the researchers remarked on it: “Girls may be less likely than boys to try challenging physical activities, which are important for developing new skills.” This study points to an uncomfortable truth: We think our daughters are more fragile, both physically and emotionally, than our sons.
Nobody is saying that injuries are good, or that girls should be reckless. But risk taking is important. Gever Tulley, the author of “50 Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do),” encourages girls and boys to own pocketknives, light fires and throw spears, arguing that dangerous activities under supervision can teach kids responsibility, problem-solving and confidence. It follows that by cautioning girls away from these experiences, we are not protecting them. We are failing to prepare them for life.

When a girl learns that the chance of skinning her knee is an acceptable reason not to attempt the fire pole, she learns to avoid activities outside her comfort zone. Soon many situations are considered too scary, when in fact they are simply exhilarating and unknown. Fear becomes a go-to feminine trait, something girls are expected to feel and express at will. By the time a girl reaches her tweens no one bats an eye when she screams at the sight of an insect.

When girls become women, this fear manifests as deference and timid decision making. We try to counter this conditioning by urging ourselves to “lean in.” Books on female empowerment proliferate on our shelves. I admire what these writers are trying to do — but they come far too late.

We must chuck the insidious language of fear (Be careful! That’s too scary!) and instead use the same terms we offer boys, of bravery and resilience. We need to embolden girls to master skills that at first appear difficult, even dangerous. And it’s not cute when a 10-year-old girl screeches, “I’m too scared.”

When I worked as a firefighter, I was often scared. Of course I was. So were the men. But fear wasn’t a reason to quit. I put my fear where it belonged, behind my feelings of focus, confidence and courage. Then I headed, with my crew, into the burning building.

Caroline Paul is the author of the forthcoming book “The Gutsy Girl: Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure.”

One Easy Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Relationship with Your Kid

Common Sense Media

So simple, and yet so hard.

Sierra Filucci

Executive Editor, Parenting Content | Mom of two 1/25/2016

improve-relationship-blog-569x329

If you own a smartphone, chances are, you love it. You take pictures of your kids, stay in touch with friends and family, keep up with the news, and text your spouse reminders to pick up milk. It’s likely never more than an arm’s reach away, and it probably even journeys into the bathroom with you. It’s 2016, and that’s totally normal.

But despite your love for your phone, you probably also feel guilty about using it around your kids too much. You’ve heard experts predict the end of human connection thanks to iPhones, and you don’t want to be lumped in with the parents who ignore their kids during dinner because they’re absorbed in Candy Crush. And while science hasn’t proven anything yet, it’s likely that today’s parents are a bit more distracted than they used to be.

So how can we embrace modern parenting, with the magic of technology at our fingertips, while still being responsible parents who aren’t too addicted to their little devices?

It’s all about taking control over your phone instead of letting it control you. In a nutshell: Put down your phone.

Set Boundaries

One of the benefits of modern technology is that you can be at your kid’s soccer game and respond to emails from the boss at the same time. But the experience is lost if you’re so distracted by work that you miss your kid score a goal. If your job is flexible enough, decide to only check email every 15 or 30 minutes. Your boss may even OK that hour off, since many companies are realizing that a good work-life balance results in employees who are happier, more loyal, and more productive.

Be Mindful

Phones have become so embedded in our lives that checking email or Twitter or baseball scores has become a habit. If you have any doubt about how addicted you are to your phone, try leaving it at home one day. You might be surprised at how often you reach for it (and then realize you actually can get along fine without it). To keep your phone use in check — especially around your kids — try creating new habits. First, disable all but the most crucial notifications that keep you constantly looking at your phone. And then, before you check your phone, ask yourself: Why am I checking my phone? If you don’t have a good reason, put it down.

Be a Role Model

Don’t you hate being ignored by someone who’s staring at their phone? It’s annoying, to say the least. And that’s just how your kids feel when they see you staring at your tiny screen when they’re trying to show you their new dance moves. Two tips: First, narrate what you’re doing on the phone. Kids might not be able to tell that you’re looking up directions to their friend’s birthday party unless you tell them. Second, if you really are ignoring them while you play Candy Crush Soda Saga or “research” old boyfriends on Facebook, it might be time to rethink when and where you use your phone. If you limit your extracurricular phone time, you’ll be better able to expect the same from your kids.

How Parents And Teachers Can Nurture The ‘Quiet Power’ Of Introverts

NPR

Student hiding under a desk

LA Johnson/NPR

When Susan Cain wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking in 2012, it was a big success. The book made the cover of Time magazine, spent weeks on the New York Times best-sellers list and was the subject of one of the most-watched TED Talks, with more than 13 million views.

From that grew The Quiet Revolution, a company Cain co-founded that continues to produce and share content about, and for, introverts. The site offers an online training course for parents and stories submitted by readers about being introverted. There’s even a podcast.

Kids, Cain says, “are at the heart and center of it.”

“Introverts often are really amazing, talented, gifted, loving children, and they feel like there’s something wrong with them,” she says. “And our mission is to make it so that the next generation of kids does not grow up feeling that way.”

In her latest book, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts, she’s taking her message about introverts to teenagers. Though the book is written for young adults, it’s also a tool for teachers and parents.

I talked with Cain about her mission of supporting introverts, and asked her advice on how to teach them.

So what does it mean to be an introverted child?

It’s really not different for a child than for an adult. It’s a person who feels at their best and at their most alive when they’re in quieter, more mellow environments. And it stems from a neurobiological difference between introverts and extroverts. Literally, different nervous systems. Introverts have nervous systems that simply react more to everything that’s going on around them, and that means they feel more in their sweet spot when there’s less stuff happening. And extroverts have nervous systems that react less, which means that they don’t get to their sweet spot until there’s more stuff happening. And so this is why you see these different behavioral preferences. An introverted kid would rather draw quietly or would rather play their favorite sport with one or two other kids. A more extroverted child would rather be part of a big gang and a big noisy birthday party, and not only not be fazed by it but seem to really relish all that stimulation.

And it’s different from being shy?

It is different. Shyness is much more about the fear of being judged. It’s a kind of self-consciousness and not wanting people to look at you and feeling easily embarrassed or easily shamed. These are all the feelings that a shy child would have. And in practice, many introverted children are also shy, but many are not, and you can also have children that are quite extroverted but who are shy, and as soon as they overcome their shyness, you see them being in the middle of the big gang. So it’s really important when you’re working with children to understand what is actually happening inside them so that you make sure that you’re responding to the right thing.

So let’s talk about schools. Where do they come in?

You know, lots of schools are really hungry for information on how they can do a better job of working with these kids.

They’re asking good questions: What indeed are the right ways to think about class participation? And are we over-evaluating as an educational culture? We overvalue the person who raises their hand all the time. Why is that important? Do we overvalue in quantity, as opposed to quality, of participation? Are there ways to think about class participation differently? Like we [at Quiet Revolution] have been encouraging schools to think in terms of classroom engagement rather than participation. Take a more holistic way of looking at how a child is engaging with this material or with their classmates.

Illustration from "Quiet Power"

Grant Snider/Dial Books for Young Readers

One of the anecdotes I loved in the book was when the teacher had her students think for a minute before answering. What other kind of good ideas or tips can teachers use like that?

Another idea is the think/pair/share technique, which I think many teachers are familiar with already, but may not realize the power of it within a population of students. This is a technique where the teacher asks the students a question; asks them to think about the answer. They pair up with another student to talk about their reflections. And then, once they’re paired, once they’ve articulated it with that partner, then you ask each pair to share their thoughts with the room as a whole. And this does a lot of great things for introverted kids. No. 1, it gives them the time to process. No. 2, it allows them to get the experience of articulating their thoughts out loud. But in front of only one other student, they don’t have to do it in front of the whole class. And then, often, once they have had that warmup period with one other student, they’re then much more likely to want to share with the whole class.

So this is a technique that works, it works equally well for introverts and extroverts. It’s great for the extroverts, too, but it just happens to work well with the more reticent kids.

What do you think about using social media or technology in the classroom? Helpful for introverts? Harmful?

Helpful. Well, of course social media is such a big thing, so for introverts, there are pros and cons. But my first impulse is to say helpful, and there are teachers now who are starting to incorporate social media into their classrooms and report that the more reticent children are much more likely to participate when their means of expression is through their screens. They can type their answer into a screen, the other students then see what they have written or typed or whatever, and then “real life” dialogue begins based on the initial ideas that were contributed through the screen.

So in general I’m a big fan of social media. I think incorporating it creatively into the class can work. If we’re talking about it as an educational technique, then I am all for it.

This brings me to another school-related trauma: the public speech. Should teachers kind of push introverts along, out of their comfort zone?

Yeah, so I think that it’s important, of course. The key, if we’re talking about public speaking or really anything that kids are fearful of, is to think of anxiety levels on a scale of 1 to 10, and to make sure you’re pushing kids within a zone of 4 to 6.

If you have a kid who is really freaking out, they’re really in that 7-to-10 zone, it’s just too dangerous to push them at that point. They might succeed, they might, you know, do well and feel this is great. But there’s too big a risk of it backfiring and the experience going poorly and the fear being further codified in their brain.

So you’re much better off meeting a fear in small steps. The answer is not: ‘OK, you never have to do … ‘ The Answer is: “OK. You’re afraid of public speaking. Why don’t you prepare your speech and work on it first with your best friend?”

Give the speech to your friend. And then, when you’ve done that, maybe you can give it to another, smaller group. From there, you work up in stages, to finally giving the all out speech. You look for ways to make the experience less anxiety producing.

In the book, you mention that loving the topic can help kids get into their speech.

Making sure that the child is speaking about a subject that they’re truly passionate about and excited to speak about is important. Because again, this is … biochemical. If you tap into your body’s behavioral activation system by speaking about something you’re excited about, then that overcomes the body’s behavioral inhibition system. Which is the system in your body telling you, stop. Slow down. Get the heck off the stage. So it does require extra work on the part of the teacher and an extra degree of thought and care, which I recognize is not always easy, you know, for overburdened teachers. But it goes a long way.

What about group work? Is that good for introverts?

In my experience, it depends a lot on how the group is structured. How carefully it’s structured. Because I’ve seen group work where it works really well, you’ve got kids who work well together, everybody knows their role. That can be a really positive experience. And then I’ve seen big free-for-all groups where it’s Lord of The Flies and you’ve got the most dominant kids taking over. Everyone else is checked out. So it can really go both ways.

The 12 Apps That Every Parent Of A Teen Should Know About

Huffington Post

Some apps just enable bad choices.

02/17/2016

ENGADGET

Not everything online is evil, nor does danger lurk behind every new app that comes to market. But keeping up with your teens’ and preteens’ online activities is much like trying to nail jelly to the barn door — frustrating, futile and something bound to make you feel inept.

Keep in mind that no app poses a danger in and of itself, but many do provide kids with an opportunity to make, ahem, bad choices.

1. Audio Manager.

Sometimes when it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s really not a duck. Such is the case with Audio Manager, an app that has nothing to do with managing your teen’s music files or controlling the volume on his smartphone and everything to do with him hiding things like nude photos from you. It’s one of the top apps for hiding other apps.

Yes, there are such things. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see, Teen Safe says. When you press and hold the Audio Manager app, a lock screen is revealed — behind which users can hide messages, photos, videos, and other apps.

2. Calculator%.

Same deal, but this time with a calculator icon posing as something it isn’t. Sedgrid Lewis, online safety expert, notes that these apps look like a normal calculator app but when teens push a button within the app they can hide all inappropriate pictures. “It’s a key way teens are hiding their nude pictures from their parents,” said Lewis.

Lewis says the best way to solve this situation is for parents to add their teen to their iCloud account. That way, whenever a new app is downloaded by the teen, it will automatically download to the parent’s phone as well.

Think it’s not serious? Last fall, there was a headline-making case in a Colorado high school where teens used apps to hide a huge sexting ring from parents and school officials. And an Alabama district attorney, Pamela Casey, posted the video below to warn parents about the Calculator% app.

3. Vaulty.

Vaulty will not only store photos and videos away from parental spying eyes, but it also will snap a photo of anyone who tries to access the “vault” with the wrong password. Parents who find it on their teens’ phones can conclude just one thing: Your kid is hiding things from you.

4. Snapchat.

OK, so you’ve undoubtedly heard of Snapchat, an app that allows you to send a photo or video from your phone and determine how long the person on the other end can see the image until it self-destructs. But what you probably didn’t know is that a lot of images from Snapchat are regularly posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn.”

Snapchat may not be the #1 app used for sexting but that’s not to say it isn’t theprincipal appeal of the app for many: Users think their snaps will disappear and they are wrong. It’s actually pretty easy to recover a Snap, take a screenshot of it and share it with others — and by others, we mean porn sites. No parent wants to find a photo of their teen daughter or son on sites like snapperparty or sexting forum.

Not for nothing, Snapchat last year published a “Snapchat Safety Center” reminding kids that nude pictures were not allowed. “Don’t use Snapchat for any illegal shenanigans and if you’re under 18 or are Snapping with someone who might be: Keep your clothes on!” the company wrote.

The reality is, Snapchat is likely on your kid’s phone. The best control you have (besides taking the phone away) is to just have a frank heart-to-heart about how there is no such thing as texts or photos that disappear and this is some down-and-dirty stuff that can come back to haunt them.

PETER BYRNE/PA ARCHIVE

 5. Burn Note.

Like Snapchat, Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike Snapchat, this one is for text messages only, not photos or videos. Burn Note’s display system shows just one word at a time, adding a sense of secrecy to the messages. Again, by promising a complete delete, kids could feel more comfortable revealing more than what they would do otherwise. And again, capturing a screenshot so that the message can be shared and lives forever, may be the app’s Achilles’ heel.

Even if your kid doesn’t have the app and has no interest in reading super secret messages, she could unwittingly get involved: The app sends a Burn Note alert that she has a message waiting. Curiosity can kill the cat and an app like this could encourage cyberbullying when kids feel they can get away with things because there will be no record of it.

BURN NOTE

6. Line.

This is a real up-and-coming app, says online safety expert Lewis. It’s an all-in-one mobile hub for chatting, sharing photos and videos; free texting and video calls too. But the devil is in the details. Things can get dicey with the hidden chat feature; users can decide how long their messages can last (two seconds or a week). But the biggest shock may come to your credit card: Your kid can rack up some hefty in-app charges on Line as well. While the app says that minors need their parents’ permission to use it, there is no monitoring to ensure this takes place.

Bottom line: If your kid doesn’t have a credit card number, you are controlling access to his in-app purchases.

 

7. Omegle.

Omegle provides users with a chance to converse online with random strangers. Is there anything that strikes fear into a parent’s heart faster than that sentence?

We turn to our friends at Common Sense Media for this review: “Parents need to know that Omegle is an anonymous chat client with which users discuss anything they’d like. This can easily result in conversations that are filled with explicit sexual content, lewd language, and references to drugs, alcohol, and violence. Many users ask for personal data upfront, including location, age, and gender [ASL], something kids might supply (not realizing they don’t have to). Adults wishing to chat anonymously may find use in this app, but kids should be kept far away.”

‘Nuff said. And it took us awhile to find a photo with language that was publishable.

 

HELLABELLA/FLICKR

8. Tinder.

Tinder is a popular app used for hooking-up and dating that allows users to “rate” profiles and locate hookups via GPS tracking. It is too easy for adults and minors to find one another. And the rating system can be used for cyber-bullying; a group of kids can target another kid and intentionally make his/her rating go down.

9. Blendr.

Blendr’s 300 million users meet new people through GPS location services. You can message, exchange photos and videos, and rate the “hotness” of other users (encouraging your kid to engage in superficial values at best). But since there are no authentication requirements, sexual predators can contact minors and minors can hook up with adults — and of course there is the sexting, notes ForEveryMom.com.

10.
KiK Messenger.

KiK is an instant messaging app that lets users exchange videos, photos and sketches. Users can also create gifs. All well and good so far. Unfortunately, the term “sext buddy” has been replaced with “KiK buddy.” Sex researcher Megan Maas, wrote on ForEveryMom.com that kids are using Reddit and other forums to place classified ads for sex by giving out their KiK usernames. KiK does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.

ROSS LAROCCO/FLICKR

 

11.  Yik Yak.

Yik Yak is the “Twitter meets Reddit” app. It allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters that can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking. The issue is that these other users are regularly exposed to a barage of sexually explicit content, profanity and even personal attacks– anonymously, of course. It’s also the app du jour for sending a bomb threat to your school.  Yes, that has happened.

Elizabeth Long, an Atlanta teenager who was encouraged on Yik Yak to try harder to kill herself after her attempted suicide failed, led a Change.org drive to shut the app down. She wrote, “With the shield of anonymity, users [of Yik Yak] have zero accountability for their posts, and can openly spread rumors, call classmates hurtful names, send threats, or even tell someone to kill themselves — and all of these things are happening.”

12. Ask.fm.

This is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site where users can ask other users questions anonymously. The problem is that kids sometimes target one person and the questions get nasty. It is cyberbullying with no chance of ever getting caught. Ask.fm had been associated with nine documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K. through 2012. In 2014, its new owners pledged to crack down on bullying or said they would shut down the site.

Our Push for ‘Passion,’ and Why It Harms Kids

The New York Times, Motherlode

By LISA HEFFERNAN APRIL 8, 2015

Standing on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game I chatted with the younger sibling of one of his teammates. “I don’t really have a passion like my brother yet,” he explained, glancing over at the field. “But my parents are helping me look for one.” I waited for the note of irony that never came.

At some point in the last 20 years the notion of passion, as applied to children and teenagers, took hold. By the time a child rounds the corner into high school and certainly before he sets up an account with the Common App, the conventional wisdom is that he needs to have a passion that is deep, easy to articulate, well documented and makes him stand out from the crowd.

This passion, which he will either stumble upon or be led to by the caring adults in his life, must be pursued at the highest level his time and talent, and his parent’s finances, will allow. It is understood that this will offer him fulfillment and afford him and his family bragging rights that a mere dabbler would never earn. This is madness.

Our parental obsession with passion is encouraged by the college admissions process and fed by our own fears. Anyone making the rounds of college visits and sitting through the endless parade of information sessions will have heard the word “passion” uttered dozens of times. Every school, we are told, is brimming with qualified applicants, students who have the numbers. But the distinguishing factor is the student who shows passion, the proverbial oboe player, who stands out by standing alone in the devotion to her true love.

When The Washington Post disabused parents of the top 10 college admissions myths, No. 1 was that colleges want well-rounded students. Instead, it explained, “The word they most often use is passion.” When U.S. News & World Report offered suggestions on how to create a “killer college application,” it too listed passion in the top spot.

We have come to believe that only those who have passion find fulfillment and success professionally. It’s as if passion is life’s magic pixie dust. We want success for our children and believe that only passion can lead them there. We hold on to this myth despite considerable evidence that millions of people have lived long, happy, useful lives filled with joy and contentment and devoid of a defining passion.

And if passion is what makes our children look as special to colleges as they are to us, it’s also what lets us off the pushy parent hook. If a child has a “passion,” we’re not overdoing it in our zeal, or pursuing our own agenda. We’re just making their dream possible. Really, it has nothing to do with us.

If passion were just a matter of semantics, a word heedlessly thrown around in place of interest or pastime, this might not be a problem. But seeking a passion in childhood or adolescence has become an obsession in itself, and it is not without costs.

When children can’t find their elusive passions, yet feel compelled to proclaim one, they grab onto an interest, label it a passion and buy the requisite instrument or equipment. This is not a harmless charade, because fake passions crowd out real ones. When you are busy playing on the lacrosse field six days a week because in seventh grade you liked going to practices with your friends and your coach once mentioned you might have some talent, you may never discover that computer graphic design is your calling. When you take every opportunity to play piano daily in a band, orchestra and private lessons, you could easily miss the once-in-a-lifetime joy of being a member of a field hockey team. Pseudo passions can eat up our days and lay waste to any chance of finding a real ones.

Children don’t miss the message that they are supposed to find their laser focus early, and that dilettantes don’t earn accolades. They feel lost and unnecessarily pressured when they hear the relentless stories of classmates who have found their calling. Parents’ Facebook postings up the ante with quips like “Dance competition triumph. #Upatdawn #Passion” The drum beat gets louder in middle school and deafening in high school, when they know they will have to commit passion to paper in the form of the Common App, reporting accomplishments on a school, state and, yes, national level. It is hard not to feel that their chance to reach that level lessens every day.

And what becomes of us, the passion pushers, as we try to make something out of nothing every time our children show the slightest interest in an activity that does not involve a game console? Just look in your garage. O.K., I’ll go first. There are skates for the child who joined a team and went to two practices before realizing that he was not well suited for hockey. There are drum sticks and one of those funny little practice pads (thank goodness they play on those for months!) for the child who soon lost interest in percussion. There are easels and badminton sets and there was even a squash racket, but it has had a resurgence with another son.

I’d like to think of it as evidence that we let our children try new things; instead, I think it’s proof that we ran to the music, art, book, or sporting goods stores at every opportunity, lest a passing interest fail to bloom into a passion because it lacked parental money or dedication.

For most children, childhood isn’t about passion, but rather about exploration. Our job as parents is to nurture that exploration, not put an end to it. When we create an expectation that children must find their one true interest so early in life, we cut short a process of discovery that may easily take a lifetime.

How to Bring ‘More Beautiful’ Questions Back to School

KQED

Question mark cookies! (Scott McLeod/Flickr)

In the age of information, factual answers are easy to find. Want to know who signed the Declaration of Independence? Google it. Curious about the plot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous novel, “The Scarlet Letter”? A quick Internet search will easily jog your memory. But while computers are great at spitting out answers, they aren’t very good at asking questions. But luckily, that’s where humans can excel.

Curiosity is baked into the human experience. Between the ages of 2 and 5, kids ask on average 40,000 questions, said Warren Berger, author of  “A More Beautiful Question,” at the Innovative Learning Conference hosted at the Nueva School. Young kids encounter something new, learn a little bit about it, get curious and then continue to add on a little more information with each new discovery. Warren says that’s where curiosity happens, in the gap between learning something and being exposed to something new.

“Kids are lighting up their pleasure zones and getting dopamine hits every time they learn something that solves something they were curious about,” Berger said. He contends that questioning is a highly valued skill. Companies are looking for people who can ask deep questions that will solve real problems and lead to profitable solutions. Equally important, it’s up to an informed citizenry to ask questions about the world, policies and the actions of our government.

Luckily, kids are hard-wired for that kind of generative curiosity. Unfortunately, “right around age 5 or 6, questioning drops off a cliff,” Berger said. Paradoxically, when kids go to school they stop asking so many questions. “Children enter school as question marks and leave schools as periods,” Berger said, quoting Neil Postman.* But why?

There are a lot of understandable reasons why questioning drops off in school. Foremost among them is time. “Time really conspires against questioning,” Berger said. “In the classroom there often isn’t time to let kids ask their questions.” And really good, deep questions often take a lot of time to unravel — more time than a harried teacher trying to cover all the curriculum often feels she can afford. And while time pressure is a very real part of teaching, not making time for questioning says a lot about how valuable it is to us. People make time for the things they value.

But knowledge can also be the enemy of questioning. “As we know more, or feel we know more, we may be less inclined to question,” Berger said. Sometimes answers can close down other avenues of thinking or ways of seeing a problem, but that all depends on how teachers treat knowledge. When treated as a life-long endeavor, learning a little bit about something opens up space to learn more.

And of course there are social barriers to questioning. Many kids don’t see asking questions as “cool.” And the perception that question askers are suck-ups or dorks probably also comes from fear. Many people feel vulnerable admitting they don’t know something. They are afraid to offer a window into their inner world by wondering out loud.

These barriers to questioning are real and challenging, but there are lots of ways parents and teachers can work to make questioning a normal part of school and life. One of the primary ways adults can support questioning, Berger said, is to model curiosity and to value questions. Instead of asking a child, “What did you learn at school today,” a parent might ask, “What great question did you ask today?” Or, when a child asks one of those great, deep questions that gets at why humans are even here, parents could dive in and explore the question with their child.

“You don’t have to have the answers. You just have to have the interest,” Berger said. Instead of trying to close off questioning by providing a pat answer or a terse “I don’t know,” parents might say, “If you were going to start answering that question, where would you start?”

“We want their questions to be large and expanded instead of being diminished and eventually going away,” Berger said. That philosophy should apply to school as well.

5 WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS BECOME BETTER QUESTIONERS

1. Make It Safe: “I think this might be the most important one,” Berger said. Many kids won’t raise their hand in front of the whole class to ask a question because they’re shy or nervous. “Fear kills curiosity,” Berger said. “The two things do not exist very well together.” But a student that might be afraid to question in front of the whole group may be willing to ask questions in a smaller group or to write a question down. Teachers can help make small groups even safer by laying out protective rules like “no question can be edited or judged.”

“The key thing is it makes questioning the point of the activity, and that is rarely the case,” Berger said. “The point is always to get to the answer.” Asking good questions takes practice. The Right Question Institute offers protocols to get students questioning, but teachers shouldn’t expect kids to immediately be good at it.

2. Make it Cool: Berger suggests convincing kids that good questions lead to cool stuff and make the world a better place. Furthermore, people who ask good questions are cool people, even rebellious people sometimes. “The people who are really breaking new ground are the people asking questions,” Berger said. “Questioners are the explorers, the mavericks.”

And questions can make people uncomfortable, especially when they hit on something true. “If you are a questioner, you are going against the grain,” Berger said. “That could appeal to young people.”

3. Make It Fun: Turning questioning into a game can be a great way to make the process more lighthearted and fun. Frame the process as being a detective, solving riddles or puzzles. One possible game to get kids started is to take closed questions and turn them into open questions and visa versa. This helps kids really understand the difference and what makes a strong question.

Students could also approach the issue with “why” questions to dig into it, then start asking “what if” questions to open up their imaginations and finally “how might we” questions to begin coming up with solutions. “How might we” is a more invigorating and creative questioning tact that “how could we” or “how should we” prompts, which tend to have more judgment in them.

4. Make It Rewarding: Many students are used to empty praise from their teachers. When students venture a deep question, they commonly hear, “That’s a great question, let’s move on.” But an educator’s genuine interest in the question will be much more powerful than any praise.

Additionally, teachers can create structures in their classes to reward questioning. Perhaps there is a best question of the week, where students get to vote on one another’s questions. Or maybe there’s a bonus question on a test that is itself a question: “What question should have been on this test, but wasn’t?”

5. Make It Stick: Questioning has to be a regular part of the school dayfor it to become a student habit. The famous comedian George Carlin used to talk about “vuja de,” that none of this has ever happened before. He was joking, but he also credited his ability to look at familiar situations in fresh ways as a key to his success.

Educators could follow Carlin’s lead and spend some time one day a week looking at a common object or idea and pushing students to ask questions about it as if they’ve never seen it before. “If you can instill this habit of mind in kids, this is the key to success for innovators,” Berger said.

If educators can find the precious minutes to foster these habits, Berger believes it could go a long way to developing critical thinkers. “I know that often times it doesn’t feel like there’s room to do some of these things under the current schedules and demands, but I feel like what needs to be done is small acts of insurrection,” he told educators and parents gathered at the conference.

Questioning Is About Power

Feeling confident to question the systems of power around us is one of the key jobs of an informed citizenry. Kids need to learn during their time at school that they have the right to know, to challenge assumptions and to dig deeper. Fostering this mentality in students can be challenging for teachers who are often complicit in systems of control over students. But often when teachers open the space for these questions, value them and explore them with students, a deep trust is built.

“I also think questioning matters because questions open up a dialogue instead of shutting it down,” Berger said. He says it’s the honest, thoughtful, respectful questions that start really good discussions. And ultimately could lead to the equity that so many educators and students are striving toward.

It’s also important to note that questioning makes a student vulnerable, and every student has a different relationship and experience with standing up to authority. “It’s very possible that there could be some groups of kids who would be more worried about how questioning is going to make them look,” Berger said. “That kid has more at stake,” and teachers need to recognize that.

These equity questions are the next topic Berger wants to explore. One study he read showed that upper-income families encouraged questioning in school, while lower-income families told their children to fit in and not rock the boat.

“Just because they’re not asking a question doesn’t mean they won’t have them,” Berger said. He’s researching how people are making questioning safe for everyone. Ultimately, questioning and reflecting are the keys to self-growth, something educators want for all their students.

“It’s OK to ask ambitious questions about yourself, your life, and that you won’t have the answer right away,” Berger said. Often people don’t ask those kinds of questions because they’re afraid they won’t have the answer. But if questioning deeply has always been part of the learning process, perhaps the next generation of citizens won’t be so afraid to sit with those hard questions.

11 Signs You Have the Grit You Need to Succeed

Huffington Post, 01/30/2016
Dr. Travis Bradberry Author of #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and president of TalentSmart, world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence.

There are a ton of qualities that can help you succeed, and the more carefully a quality has been studied, the more you know it’s worth your time and energy.

Angela Lee Duckworth was teaching seventh grade when she noticed that the material wasn’t too advanced for any of her students. They all had the ability to grasp the material if they put in the time and effort. Her highest performing students weren’t those who had the most natural talent; they were the students who had that extra something that motivated them to work harder than everyone else.

Angela grew fascinated by this “extra something” in her students and, since she had a fair amount of it herself, she quit her teaching job so that she could study the concept while obtaining a graduate degree in psychology at UPenn.

Her study, which is ongoing, has already yielded some interesting findings. She’s analyzed a bevy of people to whom success is important: students, military personnel, salespeople, and spelling bee contestants, to name a few. Over time, she has come to the conclusion that the majority of successful people all share one critical thing–grit.

Grit is that “extra something” that separates the most successful people from the rest. It’s the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality.

Developing grit is all about habitually doing the things that no one else is willing to do. There are quite a few signs that you have grit, and if you aren’t doing the following on a regular basis, you should be.

You have to make mistakes, look like an idiot, and try again, without even flinching. In a recent study at the College of William and Mary, they interviewed over 800 entrepreneurs and found that the most successful among them tend to have two critical things in common: They’re terrible at imagining failure and they tend not to care what other people think of them. In other words, the most successful entrepreneurs put no time or energy into stressing about their failures as they see failure as a small and necessary step in the process of reaching their goals.

You have to fight when you already feel defeated. A reporter once asked Muhammad Ali how many sit-ups he does every day. He responded, “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, when I feel pain, cause that’s when it really matters.” The same applies to success in the workplace. You always have two choices when things begin to get tough: you can either overcome an obstacle and grow in the process or let it beat you. Humans are creatures of habit. If you quit when things get tough, it gets that much easier to quit the next time. On the other hand, if you force yourself to push through it, the grit begins to grow in you.

You have to make the calls you’re afraid to make. Sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do because we know they’re for the best in the long-run: fire someone, cold call a stranger, pull an all-nighter to get the company server back up, or scrap a project and start over. It’s easy to let the looming challenge paralyze you, but the most successful people know that in these moments, the best thing they can do is to get started right away. Every moment spent dreading the task subtracts time and energy from actually getting it done. People that learn to habitually make the tough calls stand out like flamingos in a flock of seagulls.

You have to keep your emotions in check. Negative emotions will challenge your grit every step of the way. While it’s impossible not to feel your emotions, it’s completely under your power to manage them effectively and to keep yourself in a position of control. When you let your emotions overtake your ability to think clearly, it’s easy to lose your resolve. A bad mood can make you lash out or stray from your chosen direction just as easily as a good mood can make you overconfident and impulsive.

You have to trust your gut. There’s a fine line between trusting your gut and being impulsive. Trusting your gut is a matter of looking at decisions from every possible angle, and when the facts don’t present a clear alternative, you believe in your ability to choose; you go with what looks and feels right.

You have to give more than you get in return. There’s a famous Stanford experiment where an administrator leaves a child in a room with a marshmallow for 15 minutes, telling the child that she’s welcome to eat the marshmallow, but if she can wait until the experimenter gets back without eating it, she will get a second marshmallow. The children that were able to wait until the experimenter returned experienced better outcomes in life, including higher SAT scores, greater career success, and even lower body mass indexes. The point being that delay of gratification and patience are essential to success. People with grit know that real results only materialize when you put in the time and forego instant gratification.

You have to lead when no one else follows. It’s easy to set a direction and believe in yourself when you have support, but the true test of grit is how well you maintain your resolve when nobody else believes in what you’re doing. People with grit believe in themselves no matter what and they stay the course until they win people over to their way of thinking.

You have to meet deadlines that are unreasonable and deliver results that exceed expectations. Successful people find a way to say yes and still honor their existing commitments. They know the best way to stand out from everyone else is to outwork them. For this reason, they have a tendency to over deliver, even when they over promise.

You have to focus on the details even when it makes your mind numb.Nothing tests your grit like mind-numbing details, especially when you’re tired. The more people with grit are challenged, the more they dig in and welcome that challenge, and numbers and details are no exception to this.

You have to be kind to people who have been rude to you. When people treat you poorly, it’s tempting to stoop to their level and return the favor. People with grit don’t allow others to walk all over them, but that doesn’t mean they’re rude to them, either. Instead, they treat rude and cruel people with the same kindness they extend to anyone else, because they won’t allow another person’s negativity to bring them down.

You have to be accountable for your actions, no matter what.
People are far more likely to remember how you dealt with a problem than they are how you created it in the first place. By holding yourself accountable, even when making excuses is an option, you show that you care about results more than your image or ego.

Bringing It All Together

Grit is as rare as it is important. The good news is any of us can get grittier with a little extra focus and effort.

New, Reading-Heavy SAT Has Students Worried

The New York Times
By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS

FEB. 8, 2016

BOSTON — For thousands of college hopefuls, the stressful college admissions season is about to become even more fraught. The College Board, which makes the SAT, is rolling out a new test — its biggest redesign in a decade, and one of the most substantial ever.

Chief among the changes, experts say: longer and harder reading passages and more words in math problems. The shift is leading some educators and college admissions officers to fear that the revised test will penalize students who have not been exposed to a lot of reading, or who speak a different language at home — like immigrants and the poor.

It has also led to a general sense that the new test is uncharted territory, leaving many students wondering whether they should take the SAT or its rival, the ACT. College admissions officers say they are waiting to see how the scores turn out before deciding how to weight the new test.
“It’s going to change who does well,” said Lee Weiss, the vice president of precollege programs at Kaplan Test Prep, one of the nation’s biggest test-preparation programs. “Before, if you were a student from a family where English was not the first language, you could really excel on the math side. It may be harder in the administration of this new test to decipher that, because there is so much text on both sides of the exam.”

The College Board said that the number of words in the reading section had remained the same — about 3,250 on the new test, and 3,300 on the old one — and that the percentage of word problems in the math sections of the old and the new test was roughly the same, about 30 percent.

“We are very mindful of the verbal load on this test,” Cyndie Schmeiser, the chief of assessment at the College Board, said. “We are keeping it down. I think kids are going to find it comfortable and familiar. Everything about the test is publicly available. There are no mysteries.”

But outside analysts say the way the words are presented makes a difference. For instance, short sentence-completion questions, which tested logic and vocabulary, have been eliminated in favor of longer reading passages, from literary sources like “Ethan Frome” and “Moby-Dick,” or political ones, like John Locke’s ideas about consent of the governed. These contain sophisticated words and thoughts in sometimes ornate diction.

The math problems are more wrapped in narrative, as Serena Walker, a college-bound junior at the Match charter school here, found when she fired up her laptop for a practice quiz on the new test.

“An anthropologist studies a woman’s femur that was uncovered in Madagascar,” one question began. She knew a femur was a leg bone, but was not sure about “anthropologist.” She was contemplating “Madagascar” just as she remembered her teacher’s advice to concentrate on the essential, which, she decided, was the algebraic equation that came next, h = 60 + 2.5f, where h stood for height and f stood for the length of the femur.

“I feel like they put in a lot of unnecessary words,” she said.

 

Jed Applerouth, who runs a national tutoring service, estimated that the new math test was 50 percent reading comprehension, adding, in a blog post, that “students will need to learn how to wade through all the language to isolate the math.”

The new SAT is probably less correlated with I.Q. testing than the old one, Dr. Applerouth said in an interview. But given the more difficult reading level of some passages and more demanding curriculum, “it may be the rich get richer,” he said.

Jay Bacrania, the chief executive of Signet Education, a test-prep company based in Cambridge, said he found blocks of text from the new test to average at least a grade level higher than text from the old one. When students open the exam, “I think to some degree the sticker shock — that first impression — is almost even worse,” he said.

College admissions officers say they are just as confused.

 

The SAT is rooted in aptitude testing and is known for its “trickiness,” as educators say, like partly correct or plausible but wrong choices on answers. It long dominated college admissions on the East and West Coasts, while the ACT dominated in the Midwest.

 

College Board officials said the new test was devised to satisfy the demands of college admissions officers and high school guidance counselors for an exam that more clearly showed a connection to what students were learning in school. The College Board has also been grappling with complaints that the old SAT, with its arcane vocabulary questions, correlated with advantages like parental income and education, and that whites and Asians performed better on average than blacks and Hispanics.

Dr. Schmeiser said that despite educators’ fears, a preliminary study did not show the new test giving any disadvantage to Asians — who excel in math but do slightly less well than whites in reading. “We did look at how students of color and various races and ethnicities looked,” Dr. Schmeiser said. “It suggested the gap may be narrowing.”

As the March rollout date for the new SAT approaches, many test-prep companies are suggesting that students take one of each practice exam to see which they do better on.

At HighTech Los Angeles, a charter school in Van Nuys with many Hispanic students, more students have enrolled in ACT than SAT prep this spring. Karyn Koven, the director of college counseling, said she had heard other counselors advising students that they might not want to be the “guinea pigs,” in the first administration of a new test.

At Match in Boston, where many students’ first language was Spanish, Mr. Bacrania, who has consulted with the school, advised that it switch from the SAT to the ACT this year.

But the school decided to stick with what it knows. “We say do your best,” the principal, Hannah Larkin, said. “We don’t say good luck to them, because ultimately, we don’t think the test is about luck.”

And, yes, Serena got the wordy math question right.

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew: Your Children Can Do More Than You Think

The New York Times

By Jessica Lahey

This week, I’m turning the tables and giving some space to the “teacher” half of the “Parent-Teacher Conference.” When I ask teachers, “What one thing would you want your students’ parents to know?” the same five points come up over and over again.

1. Your kids can do much more than you think they can do. Despite all evidence to the contrary, your children do not need your help tying shoes, zipping jackets, sharpening pencils, packing their backpacks and lunch, or any of the million other tasks they expect you to do for them every day.

Take some direction from kindergarten teachers. If you think it takes an eternity to get your children out the door, imagine getting 20 children out the door, six times a day. Elementary school teachers are masters of delegation, so the child proficient at shoelaces becomes their “tying expert,” and the boy with a skill for zippers becomes the designated “zipper helper,” and before you can say “self-sufficient,” every child in the class has learned to tie and zip and mitten themselves. The next time your child tells you they can’t do something, step back and wait.

2. It’s not healthy to give your child constant feedback. When children require approval on every scribble, homework problem and picture they draw, it’s probably because they have been offered feedback on every scribble, homework problem and picture they draw. It’s vital that children develop their own internal locus of approval and honest self-assessment, because as they grow up and face hardship, they need to be able to look to themselves for strength and approval. If they can’t, they will be much more susceptible to the superficial external approval that comes their way in the form of peer pressure, bullying and the usual social jostling. As you wean them off of your feedback, turn their “Mommy, is this picture good?” or “Daddy, did I do a good job?” back on them, and ask them how they feel about their work.

3. We promise not to believe everything your child says happens at home if you promise not to believe everything your child says happens in our classrooms. Experienced teachers know that not everything children share during circle time represents an accurate reflection of what goes on in their home. When, for example, my cousin’s son told to his entire class that a robot had come to his house and removed his mommy’s lady parts, his teacher was wise enough to remain skeptical. Accordingly, when your child comes home and claims that the teacher screamed and yelled at him in front of the entire class for his low test score, try to give his teacher the benefit of the doubt until you’ve had a chance to talk to the teacher about it.

4. Your children learn and act according to what you do, not what you say. You are your child’s first and best teacher, and they learn more from your actions rather than your words. When you tell your child that it’s rude to text during conversations, yet you continue to read your email while pretending to listen to him talk about his day, you are teaching him to distrust your words and your intent, while reinforcing the very behavior you seek to modify.

In the same vein, if you want to promote a behavior such as a love of learning, model that, too. Seek out new knowledge and experiences; learn something new just for the sake of learning. As teacher S.Q. wrote in an email, “Model intellectual curiosity and a visceral pleasure in learning. Not just the brainy stuff, but anything of interest (how to clean spark plugs, what kinds of wood work best on a wood lathe, what the fox says). Show your own interest in learning by reading, thinking aloud, wondering aloud.”

5. Teach your children that mistakes aren’t signs of weakness but a vital part of growth and learning. Let your children see you fail, admit to your mistakes, and talk openly about how you have learned from those mistakes. As teacher K.M. wrote in an email, “Failure is part of the process. It’s what they do after they fail that matters. If you pick them up after their every failure, they learn nothing about how to begin again.”

Jessica Lahey is an educator, writer and speaker. She writes about parenting and education for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Vermont Public Radio and her own blog, Coming of Age in the Middle. Her book, “The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed,” will be published by HarperCollins in 2015.